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New law bans picking baby's sex by abortion

The Oklahoma Capitol

In several Asian nations, sons are preferred so highly over daughters that couples abort their babies when an ultrasound reveals their unborn child is a girl, but in Oklahoma, a bill signed into law yesterday will ban the practice of choosing a baby’s sex by selective abortion.

“It is unfortunate, even in this enlightened age of women, that many cultures here and abroad favor males over females. All over the world, millions of females are missing due to sex selection abortions,” Mary Spaulding Balch of the National Right to Life Committee said in a statement. “We congratulate Oklahoma for taking this courageous stand against this invidious discrimination against women by banning the practice of sex selection abortions in Oklahoma.”

Not to be overlooked in Balch’s statement is the growing concern that selective abortion of baby girls isn’t only happening in Asia but in the U.S. as well.

According to the Boston Globe, a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that examined the ratio of boys to girls born to Asian-American families in the U.S. demonstrated couples that welcome an oldest daughter become increasingly likely to abort future daughters to get the son they seek.

After two oldest daughters, the study found, the likelihood of the third child being a son leaped 50 percent higher than the norm, evidence, the authors wrote, “of sex selection, most likely at the prenatal stage.”

And while the Globe also cited a Zogby Poll that showed 86 percent of Americans believe sex-selective abortions should be illegal, the paper pointed out that they’re not.

A spokesman for the National Right to Life Committee confirmed to WND that when Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry signed HB 1595 into law yesterday, he added his state to a very short list of places in the U.S that ban the practice. Only Pennsylvania and Illinois have passed similar laws, and the spokesperson couldn’t confirm that the Illinois law is in effect.

Oklahoma’s HB 1595, introduced into the state’s respective chambers by Sen. Todd Lamb, R-Edmond, and Rep. Dan Sullivan, R-Tulsa, is also known as the Statistical Reporting of Abortion Act. It requires physicians who perform abortions to report certain information to the state’s Department of Health, including the mother’s age, marital status, education level, number of prior pregnancies, reason for the abortion, method of abortion, method of payment, type of medical health insurance coverage and relationship with the father, as well as the cost of the abortion and whether an ultrasound was given.

The law also directs the department to publish annual abortion reports on its website and to ensure compliance with the provisions of the act by conducting periodic inspections of places where abortions are performed.

“In many countries, parents are allowed to create genetically designed babies, including self-selection of the child’s sex,” said Rep. Sullivan in a statement. “This legislation would restrict that practice in Oklahoma and require reporting of the abortions that are occurring.”

Critics of the law, however, argue gathering the information will be costly and doesn’t exempt victims of rape or incest.

Oklahoma state Sen. Debbe Leftwich, D-Oklahoma City, told the Tulsa World that requiring victims of sexual assault to provide such information would be traumatic.

“We’re going to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, most of it for data,” state Rep. Ryan Kiesel, D-Seminole, told the paper. “Have any of you looked at the form doctors already fill out? I have. There is already a questionnaire.”

But Rep. Sullivan insists the reporting is necessary to enable lawmakers to evaluate legislative measures aimed at keeping abortion as rare as possible.

“The reporting will allow us to know exactly how many abortions are being performed in Oklahoma and why they are occurring so we can possibly adjust policy to further reduce the number of abortions in our state,” Sullivan said.

Tony Lauinger, director of Oklahomans for Life, told LifeNews.com that abortion advocates often talk about how they want to make abortion “safe, legal and rare” and that this law “is needed to measure the accuracy of that claim.”

Balch called the abortion reporting portion of the bill the “most comprehensive reporting law in the nation.”

“Hopefully the information gleaned from this reported information will help us determine some of the reasons women think they need to kill their babies so that we might address those needs and save lives,” Balch said.

HB 1595 passed easily through the Oklahoma Congress, by a vote of 35-9 in the Senate and 88-6 in the House. Abortionists will be required to begin reporting the new information in 2011.